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3 Tips for Dealing with Unresponsive Editors

Unresponsive editors are the bane of any writer. Nobody wants to have to deal with someone who doesn’t even take the time to reply to their messages. It’s disrespectful and it’s nothing short of insulting. However, there are a variety of scenarios where you may encounter an unresponsive editor. In this article, we’re going to go through three common scenarios writers have to deal with.

#1 The Unknown Editor

The first scenario is where you haven’t worked with the editor before, but you’ve sent them a pitch. In this case, they can be forgiven because the chances are it’s a public email that you’ve used. They may simply have not gotten round to your submission yet. Leave it a week before following up on the issue.

Send a polite message that asks them if they would like you to elaborate. Alternatively, simply ask them if they’ve managed to get around to your submission yet. A lot of editors will reply with an apology, or that they may have not received the initial pitch.

It’s not uncommon to have to prod an editor who you haven’t worked with before. Remember, at this point you’re not a priority.

If you still haven’t received a reply after sending a follow-up message or two, you have to send one final message. Tell them this will be the ‘last’ message you send. This will sometimes jolt an editor to life. If it doesn’t, move on. They probably weren’t worth your time anyway. 

#2 Initial Interest then…Nothing

So you’ve started speaking to an editor about your pitch and you’re having a conversation with them. This is all well and good, but then disaster strikes. They suddenly stop replying to you. This doesn’t mean they necessarily don’t like you. You still have a chance to salvage the situation.

Give the editor allowances. The chances are they’re busy and they just forgot about you. Send a polite message that’s relevant to the last email they sent and wait a week. Follow up after a week with a repeat message. You could ask to go over the pitch or say you have some additional thoughts on the pitch.

A couple of weeks later you’re well within your rights to be firm. But don’t be a jerk over it. Ask them if they’re still interested because you’d like to pitch it elsewhere. This tends to get a quick response. If it doesn’t gain a reply go elsewhere.

#3 An Accepted Pitch

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a pitch accepted then the editor disappears on you. There’s no further feedback coming and you can’t get any idea as to when your piece is going to run. Like before, give the editor allowances and start off with a few gentle follow-up emails.

Remember, some editors are simply terrible at replying in a timely manner. They’re slow mailers, and by this point you should already have an idea of that. 

If you can’t get a reply, see if you can call the editor. This is a direct way of dealing with them and guarantees you an explanation.

What you need to remember is that an accepted piece doesn’t mean it’s going to be published. An editor can pay a kill fee at any time in order to not publish it. Don’t let an editor abuse their position of power by stringing you along for months on end. If you feel like they’re taking liberties with your time, send them a message requesting that they pay the kill fee or give you an idea as to when you’re going to see your piece published. 

It may seem assertive and harsh, but time is money in this business!


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